Sample Tour Southern Downs
Supporting the Southern Downs
Food & Wine Tour 3 Days / 2 Nights
This tour explores the rural Southern Downs area of southwest Queensland, not far from the border of New South Wales. An upland farming and viticultural area steeped in history, the region, particularly the Granite Belt, has a growing reputation as one of Australia’s top producers of alternative variety wines. Known here as Strange Birds, these wines represent no more than 1% of Australia’s total bearing vines as defined by Wine Australia. Wine tasting at Cellar Doors in the Granite Belt is a unique boutique experience. These wines are particularly food-friendly, paired with local agricultural products. The small production wineries make for very friendly visits – the people who greet and serve you are probably the same people responsible for wine production.
Day 1 – LD
Depart Gold Coast at 8am and travel through the scenic rim to Stanthorpe, First stop is Stanthorpe Cheese whose artisan products are made from the milk of pure-bred Jersey cows from a single farm. Stanthorpe’s one-herd source results in a unique homogeneity albeit with seasonal differences. When rain makes the grass rich and luscious, cheeses will be bright yellow and have an earthy aroma. When frost and snow make the cows cold and their diet changes to hay, their decreased milk will make less cheese but with a more intense taste. Learn about the cheese-making process and sample their delicious products before heading on to Heritage Wines for their ‘Nips and Nosh’ light lunch with wine pairings.
Our next stop is the Truffle Discovery Centre. Learn about gourmet truffle products from interactive exhibits and truffle tastings. Inspect their newly planted Truffière with the knowledge that fresh truffles aren’t ready for harvest until winter. You will see the entire truffle process – commercial operations, grading and cleaning, plus learn how to use fragrant truffles to enhance food and delight your palette.
Later we head to Sutton’s Juice Factory & Cidery where proprietor David Sutton hand produces varietal apple juice, apple cider, apple brandy, liqueurs, preserves and vinegars. He sources his fresh produce from Sutton’s farm as well as nearby orchards in the Granite Belt region. Enjoy a slice of famous apple pie (or perhaps some delicious scones) at Sutton’s Shed Café, a great choice for farmhouse style preservative-free food, much of it made from old family recipes. Thus fortified, we head off along Armistice Way.
The Granite Belt was designated as a resettlement area for soldiers returning from World War I, in part because its cool, high altitude was considered salubrious for those with health issues. It was deemed an ideal location for small farms that could support a man and his family. The veterans named their farms and roads after battles they had fought in France. We travel along Amiens Road through tiny hamlets, old railway sidings and past some of the area’s largest fruit and vegetable producers.
A local guide will meet us at our last stop, the Amiens Legacy Centre, commemorating the soldiers who settled locally after their return from the Great War. We will walk through a restored 1909 rail carriage with exhibits on the soldiers and families who rebuilt their lives in the region.
Our home for two nights is the Granite Belt Retreat in a standard cabin.
Private cedar cabins feature welcoming log-burning fireplaces with 1 queen bed and 1 single bed for twin share. The property has an onsite restaurant and bar. Our stay includes a delicious local produce breakfast basket for the first morning and a hot breakfast for the second morning in the Brewery Restaurant.
Free time to settle into your room. Tonight our group will meet for dinner in the Granite Belt Brewery Restaurant for a 3-course set menu. You will have the opportunity to tour the onsite craft beer brewery where you can enjoy a complimentary beer palette.
Day 2 BLD
Continental breakfast provisions are provided for guests to enjoy in their cabin.
We depart at 8.30am for Stanthorpe to see the town’s newest attraction – a giant thermometer, with time for a photo opportunity before stopping at The Ugg Boot Lady shop for a look at her lovely products. Then it’s just a short distance to the lovely Jamworks Gourmet Foods Café and Larder, with time to browse their hundreds of local products. Treat yourself to an excellent cup of coffee or tea.
Next we head to Ballandean Estate Winery, Queensland’s oldest winery, where we will enjoy learning about their viticulture, heritage and wines. Relax as we have a guided wine tasting at their friendly Cellar Door. Later we move on to Symphony Hill Wines to taste their award-winning vintages in their barrel room. Symphony Hill Wines has a 5-star rating from James Halliday and is the only Queensland winery to win gold medals for both red and white wines at the Royal Sydney Wine Show and the Royal Melbourne Wine Show.
Drive to Jester Hill Winery to have lunch in their café (choice of dishes from a limited-choice group menu). As we wait for our meals to be prepared, we will enjoy a group wine tasting.
This afternoon we travel the short distance to Rumbalara Estate Wines, the second oldest continuous winemaking venture in the Granite Belt. Rumbalara’s wines are fruit forward, aromatic and easy to drink. They made the first fortified wine in the Granite Belt and their Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon and Liqueur Muscat are renowned. All wines are produced on site with grapes sourced from Granite Belt vineyards.
Late this afternoon, visit Ridgemill Estate, home to the Granite Belt’s oldest Tempranillo vines in the Severn River valley. Enjoy a wine tasting session, before returning to the Granite Belt Retreat.
Free time to relax before our transfer into town for a set menu Italian group dinner at the famous Anna’s Restaurant in Stanthorpe. Return transfer for a good night’s rest.
Day 3 BL
Enjoy a cooked breakfast in the Brewery restaurant. Check out of your room by 9.30am.
We will travel to the historic town of Warwick where we will have a guided tour of the downstairs of the Gothic heritage-listed Abbey Boutique Hotel (formerly the Abbey of the Roses). Originally built in 1891 as Our Lady of Assumption Convent, the building in its heyday housed nuns of the Sisters of Mercy and up to 60 girls over the age of 11. Through WWII it was used as a safe house for as many as 160 girls from the All Hallows Catholic School in Brisbane. By 1987, with only three nuns still in residence, it was sold to Assumption College, and sold again in 1993 to its current incarnation, a charming antique-filled hotel on beautiful grounds, the site of many a wedding reception.
We will drive through the township of Allora, past “Mary Poppins House”. Built in 1879, this heritage-listed house was once the home of P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins. The house was originally the Australian Joint Stock Bank, established in Allora in 1880 in the Dalrymple Hotel. We travel on to Nobby for a short stop at the Sister Kenny Memorial. Sister Kenny received world recognition for her revolutionary treatment of polio victims in the early to mid- 20th century. If time allows, we will have the opportunity to visit a local craft shop.
Travel on to Upper Flagstone to visit The Barn for a light lunch and later Scotty’s Garage. Scotty himself will take us back to the 50s and 60s as we tour his automotive-based museum. At the conclusion of the tour, we travel back to the Gold Coast, arriving in the early evening. Thank you for joining us!